Counting blood cells in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is indispensable for diagnosing several pathological conditions in the central nervous system, such as meningitis, even though collecting CSF samples is invasive. Cell counting methods, such as hemocytometer chambers and flow cytometers, have been used for CSF cell counting, but they often lack the sensitivity to detect low blood cell numbers. They also depend on off-chip, manual sample preparation or require bulky, costly equipment, thereby limiting their clinical utility. Here, we present a portable cell counting platform for simple, rapid CSF cell counting that integrates a microfluidic cell counting chamber with a miniaturized microscope. The microfluidic chamber is designed not only to be a reagent container for on-chip cell staining but also to have a large control volume for accurate cell counting. The proposed microscope miniaturizes both bright-field and fluorescence microscopy with a simple optical setup and a custom cell-counting program, thereby allowing rapid and automated cell counting of nucleated white blood cells and non-nucleated red blood cells in fluorescence and bright-field images. Using these unique features, we successfully demonstrate the ability of our counting platform to measure low CSF cell counts without sample preparation.
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